Band Camp. I remember my high school years of band camp ("When dinosaurs roamed the earth!" - my son). It was always hot, the hours were long, the rests were short, and there was so much music to learn and drill to memorize. 9 hours a day for a week. That was followed by Monday - Wednesday practices after that from 6 pm to 9pm until the marching season was over. When school started, we added 6:45 am practices 5 days a week.
Why? We were a competition marching band, and we wanted to win the Indiana state championship. Yes, we played at the Friday night football games, but they were mostly dress rehearsals for our competitions on Saturdays. So we endured, and worked, and grouched, and made our director angry, and did laps when we messed up, and scheduled additional practices to clean up music or steps. We got sunburned in August and frostbite in late October. We grew blisters, then callouses on our feet. We would repeat 8 counts of steps dozens of times to get the arc just right and replay the same 4 measures to make sure the crescendo was perfect.
This was before my days of drinking coffee. I don't know how we did it.
But did it pay off? My senior year at the Indiana state Marching Band Finals, we won the Class B championship. We even out-scored the top Class A winner. We were ecstatic.
And we also forgot about the sunburn, the blisters, the long bus trips, the rain, the snow, the director yelling at us through a bullhorn, the constant back-ache and the way my lips would go numb after 8 hours of playing. It didn't matter. Only the championship mattered.
I know it's the same for athletes of any sport, and for any of us who put in a long time on a worthwhile goal.
But it is also true of our journey as Christians. We have lots of concerns, worries, troubles, woes, illnesses - you name it! But the goal of our faith in this life is to walk through it with Jesus, adopted into His family, looking forward to life eternal.
So be encouraged! In this world, Jesus said, we will have trouble. But don't fear, because Jesus has overcome the world!